The right treatment for your cat’s itchy skin will depend on what’s causing the itchiness. But you can manage the condition and give your feline friend some relief with simple home remedies, proper skin care, and a good prevention plan.
Itchy Skin from Parasites
If your cat likes going on outdoor excursions, she’ll have a higher risk of picking up fleas and ticks, either from other animals or from the environment. Itchiness from flea or tick bites is caused by the skin’s reaction to the parasite’s saliva. The skin irritation may also cause redness, sores, and bald spots.
You can easily prevent fleas and ticks with a year-round prevention plan which includes regular grooming, routine treatment with flea and tick formulas (such as spot-on treatments, collars, or shampoos), and treating your home and yard with animal-friendly products.
Itchy Skin from Dryness
Skin dryness can be caused by weather, poor nutrition, or old age. If other symptoms are present, the skin dryness may be associated with a more serious health issue, and you should have your pet checked by a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dry skin caused by dry weather can be remedied by using a humidifier at home, particularly in the rooms where your cat likes to spend most of her time. You should also consider supplementing her diet with fish oil, which delivers abundant omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; and vitamins A, C, and E. Alternatively, you can switch her diet to a formula that is high in these nutrients. An oatmeal soak a few times a week can help soothe severe dryness, flakiness, and itchiness; as the skin improves, you can use the soak just once a week. You can also find a shampoo that contains oatmeal for your pet’s regular bath.
If your cat is prone to dandruff, wrap her in a wet and moderately hot towel after her bath. Leave it on for at least five minutes; give her a gentle rubbing to keep her relaxed and cooperative. Do this after every bath to help your cat retain skin moisture and reduce dandruff.
Itchy Skin from Allergies
Itchy skin may be a symptom of food or environmental allergies. You may need the help of your veterinarian to narrow down the cause of your cat’s allergies so you can minimize her exposure. Eliminating possible causes one by one will take some time and a lot of observation; taking notes will be very helpful for both you and your vet.
In the meantime, you can manage your cat’s itchy skin with home-made remedies, such as an oatmeal bath, a chamomile tea rinse, and aloe vera gel. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your cat and to keep an eye on her while being treated so she doesn’t lick her skin and hair.
Itchy Skin from an Infection
Bacterial or fungal infections can cause severe itchiness, alongside other symptoms. Your vet will most likely prescribe a course of antibiotics (topical, oral, or both) if the infection is bacterial, or antifungals if the infection is caused by a fungus.
You also have home remedy options to help manage these infections and relieve itchiness. In addition to using an oatmeal bath and a chamomile rinse to soothe your feline’s skin, you can give your cat ¼ to 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar daily — mixed into her food or water — to help restore the balance of healthy microbes. Avoid using vinegar as a topical treatment if your cat’s skin is inflamed, raw, or has an open wound.
You can also consult your vet about giving your cats probiotics. The beneficial bacteria in probiotics will help boost your cat’s immunity and gut health and prevent future infections.
Symptoms of Itchy Skin in Cats
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should give your cat’s skin a thorough examination. It’s always best to have a vet check your feline friend, in case the itchiness is caused by a more serious health problem.
- Excessive scratching, licking, and grooming, i.e., more than 4 times a day
- Bald patches
- Scabs or bumps on the skin
- Rashes or redness
- Dark or thickened skin
- Changes in coat color
- Self-inflicted wounds from clawing or biting
If you know that your cat likes to scratch and lick in private, you’ll have to keep a closer eye on her. For mild itchiness, if home remedies don’t work after a week or so of regular treatment, take your pet to the vet. If the itchiness is accompanied by other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, or vomiting, she should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.